DAYTON, OH., THE 50’S & 60’S by C. S. Giscombe.

Sat through stories
right through them as if they were told
& I sat through confluence & allegory
through metaphor
through old movies repeated on TV, through leaping blue light
all around the couch
through chance
(through unexpected moments, intimations of sex & music
(through bus trips downtown across the bridge
into downtown Dayton over
the Great Miami
through ceremony kept simple, in & back

By the 50’s & 60’s we’d been well-ensconced for years
all along the road from Cincinnati Gateway City
to the south, had pushed in downtown Germantown hill
in fact as far as the Miami to the east, Wolf Creek
to the north,
Dunbar’s house on Summit overlooked Wolf Creek,
grandly misnamed Riverview Av across the bridge

I’d simply value the humidity
of land alongside water
the steep sides even the levees downtown
(though it’s boundaries
(even then-sat through a repetition
of the natcheral confluences
the fact divided finally out of that
self w/self, self on the surface
of other
not mine, thanks

Out abroad of an evening in 1960-something, way
across Wolf Creek w/a white boy my age
he 2 of us-waiting for buses-reclined
on some lawn, at
some intersection: nothing happened
my bus came first
it was a warm clear night among the dark houses
this far up in
(myself this present in the set-up, the sequence
of description, not its demand

How I’ve wanted to see myself
at the moment of crossing into downtown
over the 3rd St bridge,
in traffic, a pistol
loaded & unhidden on the dashboard or passenger seat,
the radio blaring
-to beat the odds w/ nothing in my life
at loggerheads w/ no man or woman
to have no ritual, no quantity of value here
or over there
no gift at something or for anyone
but approaching as if from
close in
as if from far away, either one

Or simply at large passionate along the drift of streets
through the chant
of things continuing
rhetorical drone of the real doing
for the long stare out of town
back south (or ahead/ at this?

To Sam Stoloff
In a dream years later we weren’t Black/hadn’t been Black
we were Jews in a made-for-TV movie called “Jews”
set near the end of WW2 liberation drawing near:
some of us busted out of camp ahead of the gas-
how many? what percentage?- escaping
over the hills surprisingly green for a war zone, hiding in them
above the lights of hostile countryside:
how far up can you creep, we wondered
how far up on the other?
Tenuous days in which the war was winding down
in which we had to stay between the Germans
to keep moving between them & the barbaric Soviets, “the
advancing & retreating armies”:
we were nowhere
we were fluid, the moveable heart circling
we set out, then moved in circles
through the same scenes:
when we got to a big firebombed city w/ no name it was really
I recognized it……

Category: Family,